Daylight Saving Time

Spring ahead for one less hour of sleep this past weekend, but one more hour of daylight for many months. Sounds like a fair tradeoff, yes? Do you ever wonder why we have Daylight Saving Time? It’s not something that the entire world (or even the entire country) follows. Did you know that it is Daylight Saving and not Daylight Savings (i.e. singular instead of plural)?

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Do you know why we observe Daylight Saving? The most common-thought-to-be-true explanation is probably something we all heard in elementary school or in popular culture: so the farmers would have enough daylight for their work. However, that’s not exactly true. Its tale is complicated and sources are not always in agreement, but here is a brief history. Consider it your dose of trivia for the day.

Daylight saving is a late 19th/early 20th century concept, though it can be traced to Benjamin Franklin, who said “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” and thought adjusting the time throughout April and October would aid productivity. However, the first person to propose Daylight Saving Time (in 1895) was actually an entomologist named G.V. Hudson, who lived in New Zealand, and – like many of us – valued daylight after working hours. For the following twenty years, proposals for Daylight Saving were in British conversation and Parliament, but nothing happened until WWI.

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Paired with Daylight Saving Time is Standard Time. Standard Time existed before Daylight Saving Time, which is an adjustment of Standard time. Daylight Saving Time currently is the portion of the year from March-November. Standard Time is November – March.

Standard Time (time zones) were in place – but not required – beginning 1883, when the railroads decided it was necessary to standardize schedules. A United States Act (not law) established Standard Time and Daylight Saving in 1918, which was repealed seven months later in 1919. President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year round Daylight Saving during WWII, in order to reduce costs by reducing the need for artificial lighting.

Since its inception, Daylight Savings has been inconsistent, debated and altered many times: in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and most recently in 2007. Days ranged from the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in November, the second Sunday of March, to the last Sunday in October. As we know Daylight Saving now: spring ahead one hour the second Sunday in March and fall back the first Sunday in November (both at 0200 hours). Prior to that, the days were the first Sunday of April and the last Sunday of October. The reason for this 2007 change was the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Debates about Daylight Savings continue. Does it benefit health? Does it simply mess with people’s schedules and throw off sleep patterns? Is it confusing? Is it necessary anymore?

What do you think? I love Daylight Saving Time, when it begins and ends. Less daylight in the colder months, makes the house feel cozier. I like being in my house. And that extra hour of sleep in the fall just gives everyone a mood boost. The one less hour of sleep in the (almost) spring is no fun, but the additional daylight after work makes everyone happy and encourages everyone to get outside. A little change is always, and in the northern states like Vermont, gives us hope that either spring is coming soon or that our snowy winter is close. Would it matter to you if there was another change to Daylight Saving Time?